Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Five Links to Creativity December 2, 2014

ChiefOsceolaandRenegadeLast time in “The Psychology of Creativity” I discussed how creativity originates in the body’s physical instincts.  But, you might wonder,  what does this mean for me in practical terms?  How do I gain access to my creativity? Where do I direct my energy and attention? What, exactly, is the link that connects my body’s natural instincts with my ego’s potential to produce something truly original?

Actually, more than one link needs to be forged between our conscious and unconscious selves before we can fully activate and manifest our creativity.  Here are five I consider to be of primary importance.

1.  Libido:  Libido is psychological energy, the zest for life which enables us to get out of bed every day and act on our instinctual urges, including the instinct for creativity.  We all have the urge to grow and learn, but life presents many obstacles that can sap it. Chief among these is the ego’s lethargy.  Our child-like desire to regress into unconscious dependence is extremely powerful;  nobody finds it easy to rouse themselves from the cozy maternal matrix we inhabited during our early years. Other drains come from early trauma, lack of nurturance,  self-destructive habits, poverty, debilitating accidents and illnesses, toxic relationships, grief, and anything else that stifles our instincts and brings hopelessness and despair.  It’s not impossible for an individual with insufficient libido to find a creative outlet, and that in itself will provide an increase of libido, but we can’t develop our fullest creativity without a good dose of it.

2.  Balance:  Psychological one-sidedness can imprison our instincts, thus inhibiting our creativity. Some examples:  the person whose obsession with logic and reason causes scorn for spontaneity, intuition and emotion.  The one whose extreme emotions eliminate the possibility of rational decision-making. The person full of inspired, creative ideas who can’t handle the daily show-up and follow-through.  The religious fanatic who idealizes disembodied Spirit and fears and hates his bodily temptations. Balance is a bridge that allows opposites to interact, and the resulting fertilization creates something new.

 3. Self-Awareness:  You can’t mend your psychological imbalance if you don’t see it. Most of us spend the first half of our lives on auto-pilot. As long as we’re driven to do what we need to do without questioning or taking over the controls, our creative offerings are minimal. This may be fine for one who doesn’t feel the creative urge, but for those who do, self-awareness is indispensable.  Noticing the different ways you feel in different situations, then figuring out where you feel best and spending more time there, frees up repressed libido.  The more you watch your actions, listen to yourself talk, or notice the direction your life is taking, the more aware you are of alternatives. The more alternatives you have, the more original your choices can be.

4. Feeling:   At your psyche’s core you are a unique individual with important values, ideas and images that contribute to your creativity and give shape to your life’s purpose. But from the moment you first saw a frown on Mother’s face or heard the impatient edge in Daddy’s voice you started covering up your true Self until you lost touch with your essence. Reconnecting with the Self requires trust in what feels meaningful and important regardless of what others think.

I was reminded of this while watching the Florida State vs. Florida football game Thanksgiving weekend.  Back when FSU’s football program was young and unknown, Fred was one of two freshmen to earn a walk-on scholarship.  Naturally, we’ve rooted for the Seminoles ever since.  In those days I’d watch Chief Osceola stir up the crowd during a game and think, “That Indian needs a horse!”  I wasn’t aware of Horse’s symbolic meaning.  I just knew a horse could bring pride, unity and strength to our struggling athletic program. I had no idea it could do the same for my psyche!  Nine years after we left, FSU got a horse mascot.  Today Chief Osceola and Renegade are national icons and Horse has a profound influence on my writing.

I’m not suggesting there’s anything new about a Native American on a horse, or that there’s a cause and effect relationship here, or that winning and fame should be our ultimate goals!  My point is that recurring feelings and images signal creative developments emerging from the spirit of the depths, and taking them seriously can enhance our creativity.

5. Self-Love:  The final and most important link to be forged between our egos and instincts is Love.  If we can’t love our bodies and their instincts, we can’t love our flawed humanness, and without a measure of self-love we are in grave danger of living libido-deprived, unbalanced, unaware, unfeeling and uncreative lives. Living with love and creativity is our greatest joy and reason for being. We bring forth these life-giving qualities through conscious dialogues with our instincts.  This is holy work.

Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.  Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

 Image: Mark Wallcheiser, Chief Osceola on Renegade, Wikipedia

 

And the Beat Goes On November 17, 2014

In September I had a particularly meaningful dream about my remodeled childhood home.  When I shared it in The Interior Designer Within, the feedback was so fascinating and the discussion so provocative that I wrote two more posts about it: Viewing Your Life Through Mythic Eyes, and Written in the Stars.  Meanwhile, nine nights after that dream my unconscious gave me another “house” dream:

#4570:  The Remodeled Hall. I’m standing with my back to the back porch of my childhood home. In front of me is the hall that leads to the kitchen.  What used to be a narrow, musty passage between the two, with a bathroom on one side and my parents’ room on the other, is now a large spacious gallery, perhaps 18 feet wide, with a ceiling so high I can’t even see it. It’s filled with light and the walls are painted a bright, glossy white. I think someone is painting the last coat on it now.  I think this would make a beautiful art gallery and imagine a huge square painting on one side. The dominant color should be red and other fiery colors. Yes, I’ll use this room for art, but not too much. I don’t want it to be cluttered or distracting.  Just simple and beautiful. I wake up planning where ceiling lights should go.

Although the two dreams occurred several days apart, they felt connected.  The first said that the living room, dining room and kitchen—symbolically, areas of my psyche related to my conscious living—had been dramatically remodeled over the years.  The second one said that remodeling was also underway in the hall at the back of the house—symbolically, my personal unconscious.  Whereas the front of the house was occupied with the more public and practical aspects of my life, this central part in the back was becoming a space for light, art, and creativity.

I loved these dreams.  I loved my childhood home and my life there. And I love the growth I’ve undergone since then. Perhaps that’s why all my dreams of that house leave me with good feelings that last for days. It also makes sense that this recent series of house dreams came at a time when I was feeling particularly good about my life, my work, and myself.

The beat goes on, beat goes on
Drums keep pounding a rhythm to the brain
La de da de de, la de da de da

Charleston was once the rage, uh huh
History has turned the page, uh huh
The miniskirt’s the current thing, uh huh
Teenybopper is our newborn king, uh huh

And the beat goes on, beat goes on
Drums keep pounding a rhythm to the brain
La de da de de, la de da de da

My two most recent dreams, 7 days apart, speak to a different experience of life. Both feature stressful situations in unknown public places where I’m looking for my husband, my car, and my cell phone. Here’s a brief summary of the latest.

#4587:  Stressed and Unprepared I wake up from a nap in a public place. I realize it’s 3:30 in the afternoon on Thanksgiving Day! I have 20 people coming for dinner in two-and-a half hours and I forgot to put the turkey in the oven and peel the potatoes! I start searching through a crowd of hurried passers-by for my purse, my cell phone, my car keys, my husband. I see my husband and send him to Costco in his car for the potatoes and green beans.  As I head for the parking lot I worry: How will I have time to do everything?  How will I even get home?  I can’t find the keys to my car and I can’t call for a cab because I don’t have my phone!

I was frowning and feeling frustrated when I awoke from this dream Monday morning, and the mood lasted half the day! So what’s my issue? Have I been doing too much or too little?  Are my priorities out of whack?  Am I wasting time on things I love which are not that important in the bigger picture?  Should I give more attention to my outer life and less to the inner? Do I feel guilty for loafing all day Sunday?  Am I afraid of being unprepared for Thanksgiving dinner?  For the book I’m starting to write?  For my keynote speech next summer? Am I having trouble communicating my concerns to Fred and/or my animus and asking for their help?  These are all things I’ve wondered lately.

My “childhood home” dreams tell me what I’m doing well.  They remind me to be grateful.  They affirm my growth and encourage me to keep going.  Stress dreams tell me when things are out of balance. They set up possible scenarios and rehearse strategies I might want to consider. And though they may bring me down for a time, I usually bounce back before long.

Neither state of mind is a constant and this is as it should be.  The psyche needs balance, just as Nature’s seasons.  And the opposites of life deserve their due.  Yet, regardless of which phase we’re in, we can be assured that the beat goes on. Like my two favorite kinds of jazz, sometimes the pace is frenetic, sometimes it’s slow and easy. But it goes on.

And the beat goes on, beat goes on
Drums keep pounding a rhythm to the brain
La de da de de, la de da de da

Songwriters
PRINI, ROSSANO / SANDRINI, PAOLO / NARAINE, WILLIAM / ULIVI, VITO / BARATTA, MARCO / SUDANO, RICCARDO

Published by
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

 Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.  Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

 

Three Things I’ve Learned about Psychological Suffering October 28, 2014

Magician

Magician

“Every psychic advance of man arises from the suffering of the soul.”

Carl Jung, CW 11, Par. 497

As it often happens when I write about a painful or controversial issue, I lost two e-mail subscribers after WordPress published my last post on death.  Yet within five days four new ones signed on! I won’t pretend I don’t suffer when a subscriber leaves.  I do.  (By the way, I never know their names. I only know when the numbers on my stats change.)  But it’s getting easier; partly because I almost always gain new subscribers after the same posts.

Plus, my grandchildren are giving me a new perspective on this kind of suffering.  Since the current school year started last month I’ve watched their struggles to adjust to new classes that separate them from old friends.  Yet they’re already making new ones. What I’m realizing is that their experiences parallel mine.  Losses are inevitable for every growing thing.

So I won’t apologize for writing about suffering. I’m not equipped to comment on physical suffering or clinical depression, so these are my thoughts about the normal psychological suffering everyone experiences. The young adult’s post-school struggles to find him/herself, connect with a life partner, and find satisfying, meaningful work. The unforeseen accidents or losses of a home, job, friend, partner, child or other beloved family member. The existential angst some souls suffer at midlife. The daunting challenges of aging.

Here’s what personal experience has taught me about everyday psychological suffering.

First, it comes to all of us.  Many people’s first response to serious suffering is to think something like, “Why me?  What did I do to deserve this?  Why is God punishing me?” But, as a believer in the omnipotence of Love,  I don’t see suffering coming from a judgmental, vengeful God.  I see it as a natural consequence of being alive!  You live; you die.  You win;  you lose.  Good things happen;  bad things happen. Sometimes you’re happy; sometimes you’re sad.  Life comes with a full range of emotions:  not just pleasure, but pain too. That’s just the way Life is, and wishful thinking cannot change it.

For the Tibetans of northern India who are taught at an early age to accept the fact of suffering (as my friend, Elaine Mansfield, tells me), this knowledge is liberating.  It means I don’t have to take suffering personally. This frees me from misplaced guilt and self-blame.  Nor do I have to conform to my tribe’s or religion’s restrictive standards and beliefs.  If I’m going to suffer anyway, I might as well do it in service to fueling my light instead of hiding it.

Second, suffering can be our worst enemy. Like a devil who promises eternal happiness, it whispers, “Run away!  Escape!  You don’t need to put up with this.” The problem with escape mechanisms is that they only compound our suffering.  Immature egos don’t know that the only way to avoid future suffering is to deal with current suffering, so most of us are extremely vulnerable to this kind of dead-end thinking.

And suffering whispers, “This is intolerable. Do something. Quick!”  But impulsive behavior erodes the opportunity to learn from our mistakes.  It diminishes our ability to accept responsibility for our part in our suffering, and causes unnecessary pain for us and those we blame.

The third thing I’ve learned is that psychological suffering can also be our best friend.  Like a good teacher it gives us many opportunities to learn more about ourselves, and self-knowledge always leads to wisdom.

Like a loving inner Magician who sees the bigger picture of our life and passionately wants to help us thrive, suffering offers us a magic wand:  the power of choice!  But this gift comes with a stipulation:  We are the only ones who can choose to transform our intolerable situation, and the only way we can make this happen is by tolerating the tension until the solution arrives in its own time.  When it does, it is accompanied by a deepened spirituality, an expanding awareness of the purpose and meaning of our lives, and a strengthened ego with the power to make healthier choices.

Life comes with realities an immature ego can’t understand. But trusting Life to guide us through our suffering without attempting to escape or control it can transform us into maturing conscious beings.

How have you experienced this truth?

Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.  Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

 

Dream Symbols: Houses September 30, 2014

Note: You’ve shown a lot of interest in my recent posts about my”house” dream so I thought I’d share this post from a few years ago. It shares a bit more information about the house dreams I used to have. I hope you enjoy it!

Throughout the 80’s I had recurring dreams about preparing to move into new houses I didn’t like. Here’s one I had in 1988, three months after I began recording my dreams.

#54 The Unsuitable New House.  We’ve sold the house I love and I’m walking through a rickety plywood house we’ll soon move into. I’m appalled by everything I see. The tiny kitchen has huge, old-fashioned appliances and a turquoise and pink wringer washing machine. The window air conditioner unit rattles noisily. The dining room floor isn’t level, the flimsy table has a rotting corner, and the ceiling fixture is made of the shoulders, head, and antlers of a deer! Worst of all, there’s no room for my beloved books: no library, no shelves, no desk. I hate everything about this incredibly tacky house. Why did I design it this way? How could I have ordered these hideous things? I am filled with remorse. I think I should try to like this house but cannot convince myself I ever will.

I went back to school for my doctorate in the late 70’s and spent the 80’s teaching university students. The unsuitable new houses in my dreams depicted my unhappiness with myself and my life. It took another year of dreamwork before I trusted my dreams enough to leave a profession that wasn’t right for me. Two days after I left for good I dreamed I was escaping from a prison!  That fall I began to write my first book about the inner life. That was when I had a dream about touring an exquisite house that was perfect for me. At the end of the dream the woman writer who owned it hinted that it would someday belong to me!

When I was five we moved to Florida and lived in a trailer until Daddy bought the dear crumbling old wooden cottage where I grew up. After he died my mother struggled to support us on a nurse’s meager income. I would not have attended college had I not miraculously earned a scholarship. By mid-life I knew I had not developed my true interests and talents and entered a long and difficult struggle to discover my true self. At the age of 45 I found Jungian psychology and began studying my dreams. Since then my house dreams have depicted my progress. Here’s the one I had last weekend.

#4253 Revisiting My Childhood Home.  I’m in my childhood home standing in a spacious kitchen that used to be tiny, dark, and dingy. Filled with light, it has gorgeous new hand-made cabinets and polished stone counters. A young woman is kneeling on the floor painting the cabinets a creamy white. A man in the adjoining dining room is painting trim around the open doorway. I stand back to look at the remodeled kitchen and am so astonished at its beauty and suitability that I begin to weep in gratitude.

This emotional dream depicts exactly how I was feeling the evening before. My husband and I were driving along a beautiful mountain road to join dear friends for dinner when I was suddenly overwhelmed with joy and gratitude. I love the way I’m traveling through life! I love my family. I love my work, my friends, my lifestyle. I feel loved and am learning to love myself. I am so grateful, feel so incredibly fortunate. The houses are my psyche. Their kitchens and dining rooms are places of transformation and nourishment. The remodeling work I’ve been doing for 22 years is making them more suitable for me. I’m becoming the woman I always wanted to be, and it feels so good!

How do Dream Mother’s houses depict your feelings about yourself and the way you’re living your life?

Art Credit:  I found this picture in Google Images but cannot locate the original source.  The artist appears to be “Rubal.”  If anyone knows where I can find his/her website, I’d appreciate it if you’d let me know.

Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.  Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

 

Love Letter in a Dream September 2, 2014

Shadow and meLet me tell you about the mysterious woman with the cowboy hat from dream #209 (see my previous post: The Metaphoric Meaning of Dreams.) This is one of those things about dreamwork that blows my mind.

I never took dreams very seriously until I enrolled in a five-year  Centerpoint course on Jungian psychology. One of the first topics we discussed was dreams, and one of our first activities was to share an important dream. When my turn came I related one I’d had at the age of ten in which the Lone Ranger shot me and I woke up screaming in outraged protest.

Why was I a victim of the Lone Ranger:  a strong, independent, utterly ethical icon of the culture in which I grew up?  my child’s heart had wondered.  Didn’t he like me?  Why not? Was he telling me that because I was a girl I could never be a hero like him? Wear a cowboy hat?  Ride a horse through the countryside righting wrongs?

As I told my dream to my Centerpoint group I was surprised, then alarmed to notice my heart pounding. Before long I realized I was going to cry and these people were going to see it! All because of a childhood dream. This utterly unexpected public display of strong emotion had a profound and lasting impact on me. Determined to figure out what had caused it, I became intentional about working with my dreams. About a year later I had dream #209:  Running Out of Gas. By then I knew my dreamwork was waking up my ego and taking me on a thrilling journey to the life I was meant to live.

Fast forward 16 years. My life was dramatically different. I was an author of three books, speaker, workshop leader and teacher at the local Jung Center, had been practicing dreamwork, meditation and yoga for years, and had fulfilled a lifelong dream of buying and training my own horse. One day in preparation for a speech I was soon to make about dreams, I reread Part I of my book Dream Theatres of the Soul for the first time in many years and ran across dream #209:  Running Out of Gas. I had totally forgotten about it. More heart pounding. More tears. More insights.

That year my husband had commissioned a painting of Shadow and me for a birthday present. When I’d had the photographs made for the painting I wore a party dress with my favorite cowboy hat hanging down my back, even though I rarely rode Western any more. Why did I love cowboy hats?  Why had I chosen to wear one for the picture? I had no idea. Just a whim, I thought.  But there, at the end of a dream I’d had 16 years earlier, was the image of a unique, independent and obviously peaceful woman sitting in a lotus position with her back to me….with a cowboy hat hanging down her back!  She was the woman I was to become, the woman I had become, even though I had no conscious memory of all the bread crumbs that had led me to this place!

What was going on? Was my youthful fixation on the Lone Ranger with his horse and cowboy hat a manifestation of a heroic archetype that was activated in me at the age of 10? Or was my dream simply a product of 1950’s television programming? Does the Self have knowledge of the future and create dreams to guide us to who we are destined to become? Or was the woman in the cowboy hat a random image that unconsciously influenced my future choices?  I have no way of proving the truth of my answers to these questions. Nonetheless, my Lone Ranger dream and Dream #209 dramatized what would become the major issues of my work, relationships and spiritual journey.

Because of these and other dreams I now know that I am loved by an unimaginably benevolent and wise entity that sends me love letters when I’m asleep. Call it Life, call it Self, call it God, Goddess, the unconscious, Dream Mother, the Christ within, or the Beloved. I don’t care what you call it. For me, this is not about theories, creeds or beliefs. It’s simply what I have experienced, what I know!

As your sister in the human family, I also know that you, like me, are known and loved by something real that wants you to know it. That’s why it sends you dreams. Have you had a Big dream that affirmed you, brought guidance, provided an important insight, or predicted your future? If so, I hope you’ll share it. If not, I hope you’ll start looking for one. We need more stories about the Sacred Mystery of life that indwells us. Because knowing we are known and loved by something so vast and magnificent… well it just makes life worth living.

Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.  Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

 

The Metaphoric Meaning of Dreams August 26, 2014

Dreams symbolically represent underlying truths of which we are unaware. Dream events, like those in fairy tales, fables, myths and films have allegorical, metaphorical meanings. Rarely are they meant to be taken literally.

For example, in my early years of dreamwork I had many dreams about touring an unsuitable new house we were building. In waking reality I had designed the house we lived in and never wanted to leave, so I knew these dreams didn’t mean we would move into a new house I would hate. Then what did they mean?

Houses are a common symbol for the psyche of the person who dreams about them. These dreams were showing me how I was feeling about my current psychological reality. I was living in a “place” that was unacceptable to me. In utter ignorance of who I really was and what was truly important to me, I had worked hard to design and build a profession for myself that was deeply unsatisfying at many levels.

The ego is very good at repressing uncomfortable truths. Despite numerous dreams that dramatized the same issue from a variety of perspectives, eight months after my first dream of an unsuitable new house I still didn’t understand what was wrong with me. I didn’t know because my ego didn’t want to know. Then came the following dream:

#209: Running Out of Gas. It’s a dark night and my car runs out of gas. An old woman pulls up behind me and pushes my car to a doctor’s house. As she walks me to the door I ask her what kind of doctor it is. She says he is a psychiatrist. I was hoping she would say that. We go into the living room. In the center of the floor is a large open book. A young girl in a ballet costume flutters across the room on toe shoes as the doctor tells her how lovely she is. An intense young Russian man expresses a desire to stay in the United States. When the others tell him to stay, he says he can’t disappoint his father; he has to go back to Russia to pay him back for his education. A woman in a cowboy hat sits quietly on the floor in front of me with her back to me.

This dream wasn’t warning me to check my gas tank, see a psychiatrist, take ballet lessons, or travel to Russia. These would be literal interpretations. The metaphoric meaning was that I was “in the dark” (confused) about my life’s journey, and “running out of gas” (energy), but had access to the guidance of a wise old woman (Sophia) who indwelt my psyche and wanted to help me. The people in the house (the inner world of my psyche) were unknown aspects of my personality gathered in the living room (the place where I was “living” my life.) The doctor was my wise inner healer who was helping me with my inner work. The lovely ballet dancer symbolized my desire and potential to return to the graceful, innocent state of my childhood when I felt free to pursue my real interests. The intense Russian (he came from an “alien land” far from my conscious awareness) was the unconscious part of me that felt indebted to the Father (the patriarchal system I grew up in) for its investment in my education.

The Russian student was the key to the meaning of my dream. Pursuing a job I disliked was sapping my energy. I longed for meaningful, creative work but my ego believed it would be wrong and ungrateful to disappoint the teachers, mentors and system which had supported my efforts to become a college professor. In truth, this was the rationalization of an ego which would rather be unhappy than leave a job that brought it the status and prestige it craved.

And the peaceful woman in the cowboy hat who was featured in the lysis, or last image of the dream? She was the me I was yet to become if I continued to pursue self-knowledge: a woman who would quit her unsuitable job, learn to meditate, write her own books, buy her own horse, and wear a cowboy hat with glee! Two months later I quit college teaching for good and stepped into my real life, the one for which I was born, the one I’m living now.

Do dreams really have meaning? You bet!  But try telling that to a fearful and stubborn ego that thinks it runs the whole show and believes it knows best!

Can dreams really foretell your future?  Absolutely! Next time I’ll tell you a story about the unexpected way the woman in the cowboy hat showed up in my waking life many years later.

Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.  Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

 

Animal Healers August 6, 2014

A couple of years ago I babysat a precious golden retriever puppy for three days so my son and his wife could surprise their sons with her on Christmas morning. During that time she developed some digestive issues and by Christmas day she was in obvious distress, needing to be let out of the house every fifteen minutes or so. Was it my fault? Had she eaten a poisonous plant in our yard or swallowed something she couldn’t pass? The thought that I might be responsible was agonizing and I wondered for the umpteenth time why we get so attached to animals and experience some of our greatest joys and deepest sorrows because of them.

Certainly mammals have body structures, nervous systems, organs, instinctual needs, and even DNA very similar to ours. So when they’re sick, wounded or in pain, we know how they feel. Moreover, although most animals can try to flee from danger, there are always forces—including humans and Nature herself—that are far more powerful. Knowing our own fears and vulnerability, we can relate to that aspect of animals too.

Then there’s the unconditional love some animals give us. It’s so comforting when your dog follows you around, your cat purrs contentedly in your lap, or your horse comes running at your approach. You feel known, appreciated, valued. A happy, thriving pet reminds you that you can be loving, nurturing and morally responsible. We crave these good feelings and love the animals who elicit them, so it’s only natural that we get emotional when they suffer or die.

Repression and projection have something to do with the magical relationship we have with animals too. All of us deny some of our unwanted qualities and project them onto people and animals.  For example, I once knew a tough-minded woman who showed no emotion when  talking about her own difficult circumstances, yet she cried easily at the thought of abused animals. To her it felt safe to sympathize with the pain and helplessness of a dog or cat, but she was unwilling to feel her own pain.

At the time I didn’t know if anyone else noticed this about her, but it was painfully obvious to me.  From where did this insight come?  Personal experience. When my parents divorced I cried my heart out. But when my father died three months later I didn’t shed a tear. I was so traumatized that I shut down emotionally so I wouldn’t hurt any more. Denying pain became so important to me that I even refused novocaine when I went to the dentist! For years I couldn’t cry for myself but I could use up a box of tissues watching an animal movie. I still can!

Animals mirror our unconscious, instinctual selves.   This is why we love our pets so much. As they are vulnerable, so are we.  As they suffer, so do we. We know how they feel, they seem to know how we feel. We think we understand them; they seem to understand who we really are. We know we have unlovable shadows, yet they love us anyway. We see their instinctual shadows, and we love them anyway. Because they  trust and depend on us we do not take their devotion or suffering lightly.  We deal with it as best we can, and we know we are better for having made the effort. In the process of learning compassion for them, we discover that we are as deserving of love as they are.

Over the years Miss Lottie, a sensuous Siamese cat; Peri, a perky little chihuahua/terrier mix; Shadow, an elegant, high-strung thoroughbred gelding; and Bear, a handsome and gentle golden retriever, have been my teachers, therapists and healers. Training and caring for them taught me patience and respect for the ways of others. Their simple joy in being alive taught me greater awareness and appreciation for my body and the life in it. Their love and devotion to me helped me feel and express more tenderness and love to everyone, including myself. And the copious tears I shed at their deaths softened my heart and taught me more compassion for others who suffer loss.

By the way, Isabella, or Izzy as Matt’s family called their new puppy, was fine the next day. Apparently her problem was caused by the rawhide puppy treats I gave her to keep her from chewing on my kitchen cabinets. I felt terrible about it, but she kept loving me anyway. And now that she’s come to live with me for the summer,  I remember something I forgot after Bear died.  Being with her makes me feel better about myself. It’s a mysterious thing, this healing power of animals, but it’s real.  And I’m deeply grateful for it.

Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and Diesel Ebooks.  Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

 

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,965 other followers

%d bloggers like this: